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134 Indiana Magazine of History 


An Autobiography. 

[The following- autobiographical sketch is contributed by Mr. Morris 
W. Phillips, of the Lafayette Morning Journal. He found it among Juds^e 
Naylor's papers together with the Judge's description of the Battle of 
Tippecanoe, which was published in this magazine, December, 1906 (Vol. 
II, No. 4 ). According to Mrs. Mary Naylor Whiteford, daughter of Judge 
Naylor, this sketch was written in 1852 for Harper's Magazine, but not 
published at that time. The introductory and concluding notes are from 
Mr. Phillips, who, in work upon his lectures on early Indiana history, has 
become thoroughly familiar with this ground. The article was printed in 
the Lafayette Sunday Leader, June 24, 1907, and is published here because 
of its account of early times in this State, and because there is no extended 
life of Judge Naylor in the various collections of Indiana biography. 
— Editor.] 

JUDGE NAYLOR was for years circuit judge of the district 
comprising the counties of Tippecanoe, White, Montgomery, 
Benton, Jasper and Fountain. He was well known all over the 
State, and respected not only as an able lawyer and judge, but 
as a student of history, and a veteran of the Indian wars and the 
War of 1812. He located in 1833 at Crawfordsville, Ind., 
where he remained until his death, on April 26, 1873, and 
where he is buried in the Masonic cemetery. He was an inti- 
mate friend of the late Jonathan W. Gordan, of Indianapolis, 
General Lew Wallace, of Crawfordsville, and other famous In- 
dianians of his time. The autobiography follows : 

I was born in Rockingham county, in the State of Virginia, 
on the 30th of July, 1790. My parents were born and reared in 
the same region. In the spring of 1793 my parents emigrated 
to the State of Kentucky, and made a short residence in Bourbon 
county, eight mijes from Paris, having landed at Limestone, 
now Maysville, on the same day that General Wayne and his 
army passed on their way to Fort Washington, now Cincinnati. 
My memory reaches back to the latter part of this year, and 
from this period my recollection of facts is clear and vivid. 

Judge Isaac Naylor 135 

Having lived in the country three years, my father changed 
his residence to Harrison county and settled on the Blue Lick 
fork of Licking river, twelve miles from Cynthiana, the county 
seat. Here my father began farming, amid a dense forest of gum, 
beech, oak and poplar timber. Here I began my physical educa- 
tion at the age of six years. Here I learned to swim, to fish, 
to paddle and pole the canoe. Here I saw many flatboats passing 
up and down the river, freighted with the surplus products of 
the country. Here our neighbors were composed of pioneers, 
many of whom were hunters and Indian fighters. Our long 
winter evenings were usually spent in hearing and telling stories 
of ghosts, of hunting, of Indian skirmishes and Indian cam- 

There were no schools in my vicinity until I was nearly ten 
years old. Having learned to spell at home in three syllables, 
I was sent to my grandmother's in Woodford county, ten miles 
from Lexington, where I went to school for six months and 
learned to read and to write a small hand. I then came home and 
was destined to hard labor on the farm for three years except 
one month, during which I went to school. I was then sent 
to the place where my father first located, in Bourbon county, 
and there I went to school three months, and learned the ele- 
mentary rules of arithmetic. In the spring of 1805 my father 
emigrated from Kentucky and settled in the county of Clarke, 
Indiana Territory, thirteen miles from the Falls of the Ohio. 
Here we commenced making another farm; here in about three 
years I graduated in the science and art of chopping, rolling and 
hewing logs and building log cabins. In the meantime I went 
to the school about four months. Having improved my hand- 
writing, and having learned the principal rules of arithmetic, I 
became a clerk in a small store which belonged to one of my 
uncles, a brother of my mother. This was the first store lo- 
cated at Charlestown, the county seat of the county of Clarke, 
Indiana. I was employed in this store six months, during which 
time I studied the English grammar under the tuition of the 
Rev. John Todd. There never was a better man, and to him I 
owe much gratitude, and to him I am indebted for my present 
position as jurist. 

136 Ikdiana Magazine; of History 

Having acquired a taste for literary studies, and having a 
strong desire to receive a classical education, by my father's 
consent I left home to earn the money to accomplish this object. 
At the age of nineteen I made a contract to work as a hand on a 
flatboat to New Orleans. On the 6th day of January, 1810, in 
company with my employer and another hand, I crossed the 
Falls of the Ohio on our voyage to our port of destination, 
where we arrived on the 10th day of the ensuing month of 

My employer was a farmer, and after he had sold a large 
portion of his boatload he returned home. He employed me 
to sell the residue of his load. Having sold out the residue of 
the load, I left New Orleans about the 1st of May, and arrived 
home on the 1st day of June, having received nearly a hundred 
dollars for my services. In traveling home I passed through 
many Cheyenne and Chickasaw tribes of Indians. In the jour- 
ney home I walked about eight hundred miles, swimming 
across streams, wading through swamps, and sleeping in the 
open air on the ground. When I arrived home I found a good 
linguist teaching a school in Charlestown, and by the advice 
of my good friend, Rev. Mr. Todd, I commenced the study of the 
Latin language under this teacher. His name was Graham. He 
was an Irishman, and distinguished for his classical learning. 

After reading a few elementary books in Latin, I commenced 
Ovid's Metamorphosis. Having read a considerable portion of 
this work during the summer and fall of this year, I found my 
funds nearly exhausted, and it became necessary that I should 
procure funds to enable me to prosecute my studies for the ensu- 
ing year. Early in the year 1811, I made another contract to 
work as a hand on a flatboat to New Orleans, for the sum of 
sixty dollars. We commenced our journey in January and ar- 
rived at New Orleans in February. I received my wages and 
walked home again. I then read Virgil under Mr. Graham, and 
continued my Latin studies until September. 

I had resolved when a small boy to accomplish two objects 
if I had the opportunity to do so. I had determined to go to 
New Orleans on a flatboat, and to go on a campaign against 

Judge Isaac Naylor 137 

the Indians. Having accomplished the former object, I had an 
opportunity of accomplishing the latter. Indian tribes on the 
upper Wabash had assumed a hostile attitude under the influ- 
ence of Tecumseh and his brother, the Prophet. The President 
of the United States placed under the command of General 
Harrison the Fourth Regiment of U. S. Infantry, and authorized 
him to call to his aid such portion of the Indiana militia as he 
might deem necessary to check the hostile movements of Te- 
cumseh and the Prophet. 

I laid Virgil aside and became a volunteer member of a com- 
pany of riflemen. On the 12th of September we commenced our 
march toward Vincennes and arrived there in about six days, 
marching 120 miles. We remained there about a week, and 
then took up the march to a point on the Wabash sixty miles 
above Vincennes, on the east bank of the river, where we erected 
a stockade fort that we named Fort Harrison, the city of Terre 
Haute now being located three miles below this fort. The 
name of this fort was given by Colonel Joseph H. Davies, a dis- 
tinguished lawyer from Kentucky, who commanded the dragoons, 
with the rank of major. Upon this occasion he delivered a beau- 
tiful and eloquent speech. He was one of Kentucky's most gifted 
orators. He fell in the Battle of Tippecanoe, gallantly charging 
the Indians. Peace to his ashes. 

The glorious defense of this fort nine months after it was 
erected, by Captain Z. Taylor, was the first step in the brilliant 
military triumph that made him President of the United States. 
The army arrived at the Prophet's Town on the 6th of No- 
vember, in the evening. We slept on our arms. Two hours 
before daybreak, on the morning of the 7th, the battle com- 
menced. The result is a part of American history. Whilst the 
leaden messengers of death were doing their fatal deeds in every 
part of the encampment, I felt a strong mental impression that 
the God of Battles would preserve my life. 

I mention this fact because many persons who fell in the 
battle had presentiments of their deaths. Such was the case 
with a young man who fell at the fire where we both slept. 

138 Indiana Magazine of History 

Such presentiments belong to the science of the philosophy 
of our nature. They are facts not to be accounted for by us. 

I returned home late in November and taught school during 
the winter of 1812, and studied algebra ; in the fall of the same 
year I studied languages. In 1813 and 1814, I taught school nine 
months in Woodford county, Kentucky, and studied Montes- 
quieu's Spirit of Laws. In the summer of 1814 I taught school 
in Louisville, Ky., and boarded at the home of my old friend. 
Rev. Mr. Todd. During the year of 1816 I was a clerk in the 
store of John Dauthill, in Charlestown. I read this year Dr. 
Paley's Moral Philosophy and his Natural Theology. 

In the year 1817 I read law in Gallatin county, Kentucky, six 
months in the office of Samuel Todd, Esq., who has since been 
a circuit judge. I am pleased to acknowledge my obligation to 
this gentleman for his kindness and friendship while I was under 
his tuition. During the residue of the year I studied law with 
the Hon. James Scott, one of the first judges of the Supreme 
Court of Indiana. He was the registrar of the land office at Jef- 
fersonville, in Clark county. 

I was licensed to practice law by the Supreme Court of In- 
diana, in October of 1818. I resided in Charlestown and prac- 
ticed law in many counties, north and west. The settlements in 
those counties were new, and having but few roads and no 
bridges across the streams, I was therefore under necessity of 
swimming these streams on horseback, whenever too high to be 
forded. How changed is this country now. In the region of 
Indiana where I swam these streams, one railroad is completed, 
and two more are being rapidly constructed. Those works are 
the enduring monuments of the industry and enterprise of the 
citizens of Indiana. 

On the 27th day of April,. 1826, I was married by Rev. George 
Bush, now of New York City, to Miss Mary Anderson, a daugh- 
ter of Captain Robert Anderson, a soldier of the Revolution. 

In the spring of 1833 I settled at Crawfordsville, Ind., where 
I have lived since, having a family of daughters and no son to 
transmit my name to coming generations. All thinking men 
desire immortality in some form. 

Judge Isaac Naylor 139 

In December, 1837, I was elected by the Legislature of Indi- 
ana the present judge of the first judicial district circuit. In 
December, 1844, I was re-elected, having been in office fourteen 
years. By a new constitution I was continued in office until I 
was superseded by the general election in October. Having a 
constitution unimpaired, I presided in all the courts in my circuit 
at every term except in the county of Benton, where there was 
so little business that I only attended at the fall term. This state- 
ment is qualified by the fact that I exchanged courts with an- 
other judge twice, he presiding in my circuit and I in his. I 
mention this fact to show the importance of training the physical 
as well as the intellectual power of man. There is important 
truth in the Latin maxim, mens sana in corpore sano. 

When I commenced the practice of law in the spring of 1818 
I found the besetting sin of the members of the bar to be in- 
temperance and gambling. About nine-tenths of the members 
of the bar were slaves and victims to these vices. Many of these 
men were distinguished by their talents and legal attainments. 
It is a melancholy reflection to me that almost all these men 
have gone prematurely to their graves, at a period when their 
profession and usefulness should have been in its meridian of 
splendor. I escaped the blighting and destructive influences of 
these vices by early moral training by religious parents. I am 
pleased to state the fact that not more than one in twenty of the 
members of the bar of this circuit is guilty of intemperance or of 
gambling. The great moral and social reform of the last few 
years has done a mighty and glorious work among the bar of 

This reform is essential with, and necessary to the proper 
standing and character of this honorable profession. They grow 
and flourish only in the soil of civil and political liberty. They 
find no place in the region of despotism ; they gave an irresistible 
impetus to the cause of our glorious Revolution. Twenty-four of 
the fifty-six immortal signers of the Declaration of Independence 
were lawyers. How indispensible, therefore, is the obligation 
of the members of the bar to obey the moral and physical laws 
of man's nature. The victims of intemperance and gambling 

140 Indiana Magazine of History 

are the most abject slaves in all God's moral universe. These 
vices are usually the first steps in the pathway of infamy, and 
the heralds of the inevitable ruin of their victims. 

As before stated, I had formed in early life two purposes, 
one to be a merchant and the other to be a classical scholar. I 
had abandoned the former to accomplish the latter. The latter 
was defeated by the War of 1812. The war demanded my ser- 
vices in defense of the frontier inhabitants of Indiana, and my own 
relatives and friends. At the close of the war I was advised to 
read law and become a member of the legal profession by my 
very good friend, Mr. Todd. I followed his advice. The result 
is already stated. I. Naylor. 

Crawfordsville, Ind., March 16, 1852. 

The wife of Judge Naylor was a Catharine Anderson, the 
daughter of Captain Anderson, who was with General Wash- 
ington at Valley Forge. Judge Naylor, at the time of the Pigeon 
Roost massacre, was a boy working in the field of his frontier 
home near Charlestown, Ind., and in response to a messenger 
telling him of the massacre then going on, mounted his horse 
and rode to the scene rifle in hand, to avenge the death of his 
neighbors. He also served in the ranks of the American army 
during the War of 1812. The following children of this famous 
old Indian fighter still live, and are located as follows : Mrs. 
Elizabeth Briar, aged seventy-six, Spokane, Wash. ; Mrs. Mary 
Naylor Whiteford, Marion, Ind., aged seventy-one ; Mrs. 
Catherine Anderson Briar, aged sixty-nine, Oakland, Cal. ; and 
Mrs. Virginia L. Hay, aged sixty-six, Evanston, 111.